Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Just recently I have  -
given a critique of someone's painting on their blog
learned something from a blog post.

My critique was  in response to a post on Katharine Harra's blog where she asked about her painting "is it too wishy-washy?"  I thought the weakness I saw in the painting was important to point out.  Katherine thought my comment was helpful and she made the change suggested.  Here are the two links to the first painting  and the second.

While I'm blessed to have some very good art friends (and a husband and daughter!) who are not afraid to tell me what my paintings need when I get stumped, some artists work in more solitary settings and don't have this dynamic.   My artist friends all have a "good eye" and my husband and daughter represent "John Q. Public", looking at my paintings through the eyes of most people.

Katherine raised a good point in her second blog post (above) - most comments on the blogs are happy little compliments.  I'm guilty of this, myself - since I don't know you personally and don't want to offend you, I'll offer up a positive comment, nothing more.  Katherine said she does welcome suggestions - as do I - so maybe we blog commenters should think about that more and offer our suggestions (in a positive way!).  We can all help each other learn . . .

. . .  just as I did from a recent post on Jeannette Jobson's blog.

This one simple post will help me work toward my goal of becoming a better "draw-er".  I rely too heavily on my photos and tracing and have let my drawing skills lag.  In order to remedy this situation I recently took a drawing "class".

Well, it looked a lot better on paper than it was in reality.  There was obviously no cohesive teaching plan, we were all over the place with no clear roadmap to follow - from a very simple beginning drawing to portraits!  Then back to shapes, then on to something hanging on the wall with the directive "draw that".  While I'm sure the instructor does know her stuff, and she's probably a very nice person, she just wasn't an able teacher.

Now I'm back to books and trying to create my own syllabus - so I really found Jeannette's post about "how to start" a drawing more helpful than she will know!  Begin at the beginning - and move on from there.

I hope we all can learn something from blogs!  And not be afraid to offer advice.

Monday, January 27, 2014


The (maybe) completed painting.  Since this is a learning curve for me, I’m just happy it looks somewhat like the photograph and looks like a bird of paradise and not a rose!

I think I have done well with the blending of the pastel colors.  Here is a close up of part of the flower – you be the judge.

However, the edges are a concern to me, they seem too blurry, but I have to realize that I probably cannot get the same sharp edges that I can achieve in watercolor since I’m using my fingers to blend.  I tried a blending stump but all it did was lift off the color – there must be something I’m doing wrong, so any of you pastelists out there – I’ll gladly take some tips!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I added color to the background, because I thought it would be easier to lay the final pastels over the background rather than the other way around.

Here I’ve added more to the background and begun adding color to the flower.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I decided to try another pastel painting, something easy, I thought!  But when you are trying to learn something, NOTHING is really easy, is it?

So, anyway, here goes.

I drew the flower from my photograph which was taken either at Krohn Conservatory here in Cincinnati, or at the Stan Hywet Conservatory in Akron, I’m not sure which photo I had printed off.  Then I put my drawing under tracing paper and used a fine Sharpie™ marker to go over the main lines and made a copy of that.  Then, using the method I usually employ with my watercolors, I used Saral to transfer the drawing to my pastel paper (Colourfix paper).  Above is the photo and my drawing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Photo program downloaded – CHECK
          Of course, it didn’t load in the way it said it would – I’m beginning to get used to that!
Camera manual downloaded – CHECK
          Remember when they used to give you an actual manual – or are you too young for that!
          Manual?  Totally unhelpful after a quick review.
Photos taken and uploaded to photo program - CHECK
          Well, I’m not at all impressed with the photo program, seems it does less than the Kodak does.
          Plus when I downloaded it every photo in my computer went into it – didn’t see that coming! 
          Thankfully there is still a way for things to go into my Kodak program, or I would have been toast.

Perhaps because I have broken this new camera process down into small parts spread over several days, I didn’t feel too panicky or upset or frustrated.  Of course, it could also be due to the fact that I no longer assume things will load as stated in the instructions - I now know THEY NEVER DO in my computer world!  And since the process was broken down in between things that I actually CAN do – like paint, read, cook, fill dishwasher and do laundry – I didn’t feel constantly stupid.

I have now used both cameras to shoot the same objects and see which photos look the best.   I thought – “wow - wouldn’t I be surprised to find the Kodak out performing the Sony!” 

Here goes – you be the judge!

These first two are full zoom.  The Sony is on top.  (I know, stupid photos, but just something so I can use the camera - I’ll delete them – these ain’t paintin’ pitchers!)

Full zoom (Sony) - we get the cow heads!
Full Zoom (Kodak) - we get cow butts!
These are both taken with the lens at no zoom, again Sony on top.  Both were taken into the sun and through the dining room door - not the best conditions.

I think there is a bit more definition with the cattle.
This one (Kodak) seems a bit more blue- ish.
So, the verdict is that the Sony will obviously take better photos, but I will have to figure out how to get them resized and cropped.  I will have to gradually take time to look into the Sony program, it’s not making sense and seems it doesn’t do as much as the Kodak program does - maybe I’m missing something.  I want to be able to take photos of my paintings for shows, and want to be able to crop them so I can clean up the edges.  I also need to be able to resize them for these blog posts!

Jeesh – seems like the more the “improve” things, the worse they get – or is it just me???

Wish me luck.

PS – I just realized that there is a way on the camera itself to change the resolutions – to take photos for the web which is what I had put some of the photos on (accidentally while messing with the menu function) – and high resolution.  Soooooo – now I know that little bit of information.  Learning through trial and error, here in the computer age!  But it means I’ll be re-taking a couple of photos for show entries – yippee.

Also, I find it odd that I can’t change the size once the photos are taken – unless I’ll learn that later.  In other words, you have to know when you take the photo whether it’s something you want to keep in low resolution, such as a blog photo, or high resolution for a show entry – hmmmmmm – there’s probably a way to change this in the camera, it’s just taking me a while to find it.

I feel like I’m back in school – most likely in math or science class – totally clueless and probably daydreaming about some boy . . . . 

Monday, January 13, 2014


My painting on the left.   This row of people was humorous to me.
I thought I should tell them "Hey - you guys are facing the wrong way"!
My husband and I went to the opening of the Ohio Watercolor Society (OWS) Traveling Show at Middletown Arts Center (MAC) on Saturday afternoon.  This was a ticketed event, but as one of the artists I was able to get in for free and my husband at a discounted ticket rate.

As always, the show was hung beautifully and a very nice reception was held.  They always do a bang up job on their receptions, and the facility is great. 

In the foyer they had set up a table with a few of Homer Hacker’s paintings on it, with a photo printed on foam core which you could sign as a memorial to him.  Homer died in December, just before Christmas.  He was a wonderful artist who I last saw at the OWS banquet in September.  He was frail, but still full of life.  He was an amazing portrait artist – we had him come to GCWS when he was 90 and in about an hour and a half he had a completed portrait of his friend who had driven him to the meeting.  I know he will be missed in the art world.
My friend, Carolyn Hibbard's, painting - this looks beautiful in person - without the glare!
Since I had not seen the show in Oberlin, I enjoyed taking my time to walk around and inspect the paintings and speak to some of the artists.  The Vice President of OWS stood up and gave a short talk about OWS and introduced the artists who were present.

I was interviewed for our local TV station WCPO – don’t get too excited, this will only be on their website – along with the other artists present.  I’ll have to find out when this will be on the web and post that information on my sidebar in case you are interested.  My hope is that I don’t look too horrible, old and double chinned and that I don’t look or say anything too stupid!  I asked him if he could make me look like Raquel Welch but he said that’s too hard to do with video!  Drat!
Fred Graff's painting which won the top award.
Anyway, I just took a few photos of the crowd while my husband ate his way through the buffet!
Some of the crowd at the opening.  It was too hard to get photos of all of the paintings,
since every time I got set up to take a picture, someone walked in front of me.
(Oh, the travail of being short!)
It was too difficult to get more shots of the paintings (see above) but I used my new camera and was actually able to get the photos onto the blog – whew – maybe I’m learning something after all!

If you live anywhere within the Cin-Day Corridor (and if you do, you will know what I’m talking about) you should go see the show.  Dates and hours are on my sidebar.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I wanted to show the sizes of the cameras for comparison so I put the phone next to each.
Here we have the Kodak on the top and Sony on the bottom - no zoom.

And then with the zoom extended – Kodak on top and Sony on bottom.

You can see the difference in size!  

First the camera battery was charged, lens cover and strap attached, tripod played with and I began reading slowly through the manual. 

I told you there is nothing quick about me and electronics – I’m afraid I’ll mess up something and not be able to fix it.  Whenever anyone hands me their iPhone to show me their photos, as soon as it’s in my hand the pictures disappear!  My friend handed me her camera with 300+ photos of her daughter’s wedding on it and – blink! – no photos appeared.  Took her a few minutes to figure out why.  See - - - there is just something about me and electronics that don’t go together!

Anyway, I finally got the memory card in and began taking some photos.  Just my desk, stuff outside the window, and the cattle grazing across the lake – wow, great stuff, right?  But I was just trying to see how it looked and how difficult it is to use.  It was interesting to take the cattle photos – I took a progression of 5, from no zoom to full zoom with each camera.  Both took good photos, but with the full zoom on the Sony you could make out the cow head eating hay and full zoom on the Kodak was still in the range of whole cattle rather than heads. 

I’m already slightly discombobulated going from one to the other – kind of like my husband when he drives my stick shift versus his automatic!!!  They have similarities in their knobs and dials and buttons, but they are all in different places!
Next up is to download the camera manual and photo program.  Have I mentioned that I’m also not very good at downloading stuff into my computer and then actually finding it later???   Wish me luck!

Monday, January 6, 2014


The new camera and all the paraphernalia that came with it - Yikes!

I recently purchased a new camera, after reviewing Consumer Reports articles.  It’s a Sony DSC HX300.

My current camera is a Kodak which is several years old but still takes great photos.  However, following a trip to the (very humid) mountains of North Carolina a few years ago it began “acting up”.  Did you know that an area of North Carolina around Brevard is a rain forest!  Well, neither did I until it became so humid that moisture invaded my camera which then refused to work for a few weeks and the SD card was ruined.  A subsequent trip in the winter to the local conservatory (30 degrees outside, and 90 inside) and stepping from a frigid air conditioned basement into 95 degree humidity, both of which also caused condensation, certainly didn’t help the condition of the camera.

Even though the camera dried out each time, it gets a bit wacky periodically and I can see the handwriting on the wall!  I wanted to get another camera and learn how to use it so that when the Kodak dies I won’t be (a) completely without a camera or (b) have to frantically search for something and learn how to use it quickly.

Because when it comes to me and electronic devices, there is no such thing as “quickly”!

I knew I wanted a viewfinder and a lot of zoom, but not have to mess around with separate lenses – been there, done that many years ago with a state of the art Olympus.  Seemed like every time I had on a zoom, there was something 2 feet away I wanted to shoot, and vice versa.  And, of course, by the time I changed lenses the object of my photo would be long gone!

So lately, every time I would be in a store with cameras, I would look them over and decide if any would be right for me.  But most have no viewfinder any more, and that was totally unacceptable.  I had finally decided that I would buy a cheapie small camera to throw in my purse and a larger, expensive camera for real “photo shoots”.  Then, it dawned on me that if, sometime in the future, I purchase a SmartPhone, it will have a camera and then I won’t need another camera.  So, at this point, the plan is to have my new camera for real photography days and my old Kodak which I can take with me on a daily basis.

The reviews were very complimentary for this camera.  It is much larger and bulky – but it came with tons of “stuff”!  I wish I could get a photo of the two cameras side by side - maybe when someone wanders in with their SmartPhone they can take that photo for me!  (Or I could buy a 3rd camera LOL).
My Kodak has 5 pixels and 10X zoom – the new one a whopping 20.4 pixels and 50X zoom!  (I’m sure that extra .4 pixel will make a huge difference!)  I am looking forward to taking some good photos, although the Kodak still takes great photos, and people always ask me what kind of fancy camera I have!

The LCD screen on the Sony pulls out and turns in several directions, which I’m sure will be good when I’m outside in bright light trying to see the screen – that’s why I wanted a viewfinder versus the LCD screen.  That and the fact that with a viewfinder I’m not one of those people holding their camera or phone up in the air in front of someone else trying to take the same photo and blocking their view! 

Which makes me think of all the people with their iPads and tablets taking photos.  It was bad enough when they held a phone or small camera up in front of me.  Now there is a sea of very large objects that go up like the signs in football stadium bleachers that block my view!!!  Remember when everything was getting smaller and smaller – now it’s all getting bigger and bigger!  I’ve decided that I’m so far out of style that if I wait long enough I’ll be back in style!  

So once I get the hang of this new camera, and can actually take a photo and upload it, I’ll have to put up some side-by-side photos and we can all compare the old versus the new.  Betcha can't wait!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Another year has come and gone.  Last December we survived the Mayan apocalypse; this year we survived the ravages of snow, ice and the floods they left behind.  Wonder what’s in store for 2014?

2013 was a pretty good year for me.  My artwork was accepted into:
  • Rising Sun 11th Annual Juried Exhibit
  • Woman’s Art Club 120th Juried Exhibit
  • Georgia Watercolor 34th National Juried Art Show
  • 45th Annual ViewPoint National Juried Exhibit
  • Ohio Watercolor Society 36th Annual Juried Show (Signature status)
  • Georgia Watercolor Society Annual Signature Member Show
  • Pennsylvania Watercolor Society’s 34th Annual International Juried Exhibition
  • Georgia Watercolor Society Annual Juried Member’s Show – 3RD Place Award
  • Watercolor Society of Indiana Annual Juried Member’s Show - Award
  • National Watercolor Society 92nd Annual Exhibit traveling show
One of the bloggers recently mentioned how many paintings she had produced this year which prompted me to go back and count.  I came up with 8 completed, not counting any I did for classes.  Even though I knew the tally would be low, I’m disappointed in myself.  Perhaps I will do a quick recount, 8 seems terribly low volume! 
(Well, DUH, I just did a quick recount and came up with 13 - didn't check the "bin" paintings!)

Since my term as President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society will be over in March, and I don’t plan on taking on any more administrative responsibilities, perhaps this year I’ll be able to get at least** one painting a month completed – that seems like a reasonable thing to accomplish, even as slowly as I paint.  
** Note to self - "Deb, this means you can paint MORE THAN ONE PAINTING A MONTH"!

Here’s hoping that 2014 will be a productive, profitable, happy and healthy year for all of us!

H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R!